International students delve into English language with the Intensive English Program

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    Students from around the world enroll in the university's Intensive English Program (IEP), not only to learn English, but also to experience other cultures, create new relationships and prepare for individual success, said Kurk Gayle, the director of the program.

    Out of the approximate 600 international students at the university, about 60 enroll in the program per session, Gayle said. In addition to gaining English proficiency, students take classes in speaking, reading, writing and listening.

    “Students are in class for 20 hours per week, and another 20 hours we have them working at home,” Gayle said. “It’s a full-time job of learning English.”

    The IEP has been growing and improving over the last few years, Gayle said. The U.S. government recently passed a law that requires all English language programs to be accredited. Because of this, the program has recently undergone three independent self-studies and will be going through program accreditation soon.

    “The people who get visas to come here to study English will know that they will be getting quality education,” Gayle said. “We are already there, and we are going to keep moving forward.”

    Gayle said the IEP has been recognized and praised for its new facilities in the Rickel Building, the continued practice of conditional admission, the experience and enthusiasm of the faculty and good money management. All are all signs of health in the program, Gayle said.

    Yannick Tona, a non-degree student originally from Rwanda, said he heard about the IEP from a friend. He decided to enroll to improve his public speaking and writing skills in order to help achieve his goal of becoming the future president of Rwanda. 

    “It’s been great,” Tona said. “I now have someone who I can ask questions to if I don’t know something. One of the biggest problems I had was writing, but now teachers go step by step  with me and give me feedback.”

    While the IEP works with students from a variety of countries, approximately half the IEP students are from Saudi Arabia. The influx is due to a Saudi Arabian program established in 2004 that gives students full rides to certain U.S. schools, Gayle said.

    One university student from Saudi Arabia is Alia Almoosa. She came to the United States from Saudi Arabia about ten months ago with her husband, two children and brother. She said she heard about IEP from a friend who had previously gone through the program.

    Almoosa, who is seeking a master's degree in business information systems, said she enrolled in the IEP because she believed it would give her a life-changing experience.

    “I had an opportunity before to get a job in Saudi Arabia, but I preferred to come here,” Almoosa said. “I told my husband that it will improve my English, I will be more open-minded, I will explore more cultures and I will meet students from everywhere.”

    Gayle said the IEP is an integral part of globalizing the university, and that the university is trying to comprehensively internationalize the curriculum, student life and staff and faculty opportunities.

    “TCU is trying to make sure everyone has some sort of international exposure, even if they don’t study abroad,” Gayle said.